Conservation Matters November 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Coming soon: An all new txH2O
    Coming soon: An all new txH2O

    What does land conservation actually entail? How does land management impact water supplies? Why should urban Texans care about how rural land is taken care of?

    These are not simple questions, but the upcoming issue of txH2O will tackle all of this and more. The magazine is published by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) twice a year, and digital subscriptions are free.

  • TWRI requests graduate student research proposals

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) announces a request for research proposals from graduate students for its 2015–2016 grant program. Funded through the U.S. Geological Survey, this program is aimed at funding water resources-related research conducted by graduate students at Texas universities. TWRI anticipates funding two graduate research enhancement grants of up to $5,000. 

  • IRNR part of TAMU team receiving $1.4 million grant for woodland encroachment research
    IRNR part of TAMU team receiving $1.4 million grant for woodland encroachment research

    Examining the human factors influencing the encroachment of woodlands into grasslands is the focus of a $1.4 million grant awarded to a team led by Dr. Bradford Wilcox, Texas A&M AgriLife Research ecologist and professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University.

    “Slowing the Expansion of Woodlands and Increasing the Resilience of Grasslands in the Southern Great Plains” is a three-year project funded by the National Science Foundation.

  • Meet a scientist: Gretchen Miller
    Meet a scientist: Gretchen Miller

    Groundwater researcher and engineer Dr. Gretchen Miller wants to know how to balance the water resources needs of people, the economy and the planet.

    “Engineers are really well-placed to promote sustainable water use, which is the central theme of my research on groundwater and ecohydrology,” said Miller, an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. 

    “I’ve been interested in water resources since being a teenager, because I was always interested in the quality of the environment and environmental concerns,” she said.

  • How much water does the U.S. use?
    How much water does the U.S. use?

    According to a new study published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), about 355,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn for use in the United States in 2010. National water use declined by 13 percent from 2005 to 2010.

    The report, “Estimated use of water in the United States in 2010,” is the 13th in a series of USGS reports published every five years since 1950.

  • Texas Water Development Board adopts SWIFT rules

    In 2013, Texas voters approved the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT). Introduced by the 83rd Texas Legislature during the 2013 legislative session, SWIFT enabled a one-time investment of $2 billion from the state's Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, to provide low-cost loans for water projects in Texas. Additionally, the legislature called for at least 20 percent of SWIFT to be reserved for conservation and reuse projects and at least 10 percent to be reserved for rural and agricultural projects.

    On Nov. 6, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) adopted a set of rules for implementing SWIFT. The rules will determine how eligible projects will be prioritized for funding. TWDB now invites public water providers to submit an abridged application as the first step to receiving funding from SWIFT.

  • Free soil testing available to Lower Rio Grande Valley producers
    Free soil testing available to Lower Rio Grande Valley producers

    The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is offering its annual soil testing campaign through February, according to AgriLife Extension personnel.

    “We’re encouraging all commercial agricultural producers in Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties to take part in this free soil testing campaign to help the environment and their bottom lines,” said Ashley Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Extension assistant in Weslaco. “This will be the 14th year in a row we’re offering this service, and it’s been hugely successful.”

  • Urban Riparian Symposium coming to Austin in February
    Urban Riparian Symposium coming to Austin in February

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), Texas Riparian Association and the city of Austin are hosting an Urban Riparian Symposium Feb. 11–13, 2015, at the Palmer Events Center in Austin.

    Workshops are scheduled for 1-5 p.m. on Feb. 11, and the symposium will be from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Feb. 12 and from 8:30 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Feb. 13. Attendees can sign up for one of two separate night walks hosted by Austin Water Utility on Feb. 11. Early registration is $75 and due by Dec. 1. After Dec. 1, registration is $110.

  • New Panhandle wildlife management area approved
    New Panhandle wildlife management area approved

    The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved acceptance of a land donation to create the new 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Cochran, Terry and Yoakum counties, near Lubbock. The WMA will provide a refuge for the threatened lesser prairie chicken and other native grassland birds and wildlife, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

  • AgriLife Research study: Drought-tolerant corn taps deeper soil profile
    AgriLife Research study: Drought-tolerant corn taps deeper soil profile

    As water challenges for corn production on the Texas High Plains continue, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are evaluating recent drought-tolerant hybrids from major seed companies.

    Dr. Qingwu Xue, AgriLife Research crop stress physiologist, and his assistant research scientist, Dr. Baozhen Hao, are wrapping up a two-year study on “Water Use and Grain Yield in Drought-Tolerant Corn in the Texas High Plains.”

  • Public comments invited on USDA Conservation Stewardship Program interim rule

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is seeking public comments on changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule. USDA published the interim final rule, which contains the statutory changes to CSP, in the Federal Register. The rule will be open for public comments through Jan. 5, 2015.

    Interested individuals can submit public comments on the interim final rule via regulations.gov. Public comments will be used to finalize the interim final rule, and a final rule will be published afterwards, according to the USDA. 

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